Chester MP, Chris Matheson, has spoken out against the privatisation of NHS dentistry and the funding crisis within the NHS.

In a petition debate in Westminster Hall, MPs came together to debate the future of the NHS.

Up and down the country, the NHS is seeing record waiting lists, with 6 million people waiting in England as of November 2021. This is the highest number ever recorded. Latest figures also show that 36,140 people are waiting for care at the Countess of Chester Hospital.

In his speech Chris said:

“The NHS is recognised and envied around the world. It is something that we should celebrate and admire, not chop up, neglect and sell off piecemeal at every opportunity. It is the NHS and its staff that are getting us through this pandemic. I would like to take this opportunity, to once again thank the NHS and care staff who have worked so hard and sacrificed so much over the last two years.

“The NHS cannot continue to look after us if we do not look after it. Tory mismanagement over the last decade and the pressures of the pandemic mean that the NHS is running on empty and surviving solely on the good will of its employees.”

He continued by highlighting the crisis faced by NHS dentistry: “Some people are being told that they may have to wait up to two years for an NHS dental appointment. Over the past few months, many of my constituents have told me the difficulties that they have had in finding and accessing an NHS dentist in my constituency and the surrounding areas. On average, there are only 4.4 dentists per 10,000 people in England, and the number is shrinking. With shortages of staff, a lack of funding, the pressures of the pandemic and dissatisfaction with NHS dentists’ contracts, the waiting lists are growing. Many dental practices are feeling pressure to turn private just to be able to cover wages and equipment costs, and to survive as a business.”

Chris has recently been in contact with Chester dentist Dr Gallier, whose practice has had to go private. This has resulted in over 7500 patients no longer being able to receive NHS dental care.

Chris added:

“Practices around the country are doing this not through choice, but out of necessity and lack of funding. Dr Gallier just cannot make ends meet. Indeed, in the last year for which figures were available, 2018-19, the amount spent on dentistry fell in real terms, compared with the six years previously. While the £50 million announced recently by the Minster is

welcome, only £7 million of that will go to dentistry in the North West, which is clearly insufficient when the national budget for England was over £2 billion in 2019.

“With fewer NHS dental practices, many constituents have no choice but to go private—an option many will not be able to afford, especially given the cost-of-living crisis we face. I worry that the Tory masterplan all along has been to starve the NHS of funding, resulting in inevitable back-door privatisation—or perhaps there has been a more sinister scheme to monetise dentistry, as there has been in similar services, including some GP practices and many vets practices.”

Chris Matheson MP during debate
Chris Matheson MP during debate
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